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Viewing Blog: Feed Your Imagination, Most Recent at Top
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Feed Your Imagination was created by college student Kristin, a book and music lover. Feed Your Imagination participates in In My Mailbox, Teaser Tuesdays, and Waiting on Wednesdays. In addition to book reviews and contests (and in the future, author interviews), Feed Your Imagination also features a Flashback of the Month (a review of an older, now overlooked book) and Feed Your Ears on Fridays (a 5 song playlist for a book).
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1. Catching Fire

An absolutely thrilling sequel to The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins will blow your mind with Catching Fire. Katniss and Peeta made it out of the Hunger Games alive once, but can they do it again? As the living champions of the Hunger Games are pitted against each other, Katniss and Peeta realize that while being clever may have saved their lives the first time around, their behavior is now perceived as a threat to the Capital’s control and order. Meanwhile, the couple has managed to inspire hope among citizens opposing the Capitol, those who believe there’s a lot more going on than the government would like them to believe. As if survival weren’t enough to deal with, Katniss is still caught up in a sort of love triangle, struggling to understand how she feels about Peeta and Gale.

I enjoyed Catching Fire just as much as I did its predecessor. As expected, Katniss continued to be the strong protagonist I fell in love with in The Hunger Games. Though I was sometimes disappointed with her indecisiveness, I still loved her wit and bravery. I wish her interactions with Peeta and Gale had been developed further and had been less muddy, but I assume that will happen in the conclusion to this trilogy. Nevertheless, I was especially impressed by Collins’ play with time and symbolism in this installment. Though I wasn’t sure if the original premise would remain thrilling without Catching Fire seeming repetitive, Collins seems to do this with ease by focusing on the Quarter Quell, and I was never bored. I could hardly put the book down. This novel ends resolving sufficient loose plot lines to appease the reader, while leaving you desperate for the conclusion. 10 out of 10.

1 Comments on Catching Fire, last added: 1/8/2010
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2. Waiting on Wednesday: January 6

Title: Mistwood
Author: Leah Cypess
US Release date: April 27, 2010

Summary (from GoodReads): The Shifter is an immortal creature bound by an ancient spell to protect the kings of Samorna. When the realm is peaceful, she retreats to the Mistwod. But when she is needed she always comes. Isabel remembers nothing. Nothing before the prince rode into her forest to take her back to the castle. Nothing about who she is supposed to be, or the powers she is supposed to have. Prince Rokan needs Isabel to be his Shifter. He needs her ability to shift to animal form, to wind, to mist. He needs her lethal speed and superhuman strength. And he needs her loyalty--because without it, she may be his greatest threat. Isabel knows that her prince is lying to her, but she can't help wanting to protect him from the dangers and intrigues of the court . . . until a deadly truth shatters the bond between them. Now Isabel faces a choice that threatens her loyalty, her heart . . . and everything she thought she knew.

Why I'm interested: I'm all for supporting the tenners, and this book really speaks to my fantasy interests. First of all, I love princes (and not just those of the Disney variety, I promise). I also think this take on Shifters sounds awesome, and stands out a bit from the other fantasy that we're seeing a lot of in YA lit. Plus there definitely sounds like there'll be some romance, and I can never pass that up. And I mean, there's a castle on the cover. Sweet.

So... what did you pick this week?

1 Comments on Waiting on Wednesday: January 6, last added: 1/7/2010
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3. Moonlight

Moonlight by Rachel Hawthorne follows Kayla, a nature lover who lost her parents to the forest at a young age, as she discovers werewolves – though I suppose I should say Shifters. As Kayla faces her first summer as a sherpa, she struggles to overcome her nightmares while learning more about her identity and her past. As the summer unfolds, Kayla finds herself torn between feelings for Macon, a member of the hiking group she’s working with, and Lucas, their seemingly fearless leader. Meanwhile, Lucas and his fellow Dark Guardians, those charged with protecting the Shifter population, face a threat worse than exposure. Lucas strains to maintain his calm demeanor and lead as he should while protecting those dearest to him.

Though a bit formulaic, I truly enjoyed this start to Rachel Hawthorne’s Dark Guardians trilogy (though I hear now a fourth installment is due out spring 2010, so I suppose it isn't a trilogy anymore). For one, to read a novel dealing with werewolves as opposed to vampires was refreshing. By developing the history of Shifters, Hawthorne creates a more complex side to these fantastic creatures. Moonlight is a light, quick read that will keep the reader engaged through the final page. Full of an interesting group of characters, each with their own quirks, this novel is never dull. The romantic lines are really at the heart of this book, and the chemistry between characters is sure not to disappoint. For those who like adventure and romance and don’t mind a bit of fluff, this is a great book to pick up. 8 out of 10.

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4. Lady Macbeth's Daughter

From the author of Ophelia comes a new twist on a Shakespearean classic: Lady Macbeth’s Daughter. In Lisa Klein’s take on Macbeth, Lady Macbeth bears a deformed child – a girl, nonetheless. When Macbeth casts away his child, Albia, his wife mourns and a serving woman, Rhuven, along with her sisters (coincidently the witches), takes the baby in, treating her like a daughter. Albia grows up with no knowledge of her rightful birth mother, while Lady Macbeth continues to grieve for the daughter she believes to be dead and for her failure to produce a healthy male heir to inherit the Macbeth name. When King Duncan is murdered, Albia is forced to leave her family to live with Banquo. There, Albia begins to feel an attachment to Banquo as the father she never had, as well as to Fleance – as more than a brother. A curious and brave heroine amidst the war, Albia sets out to learn the truth of her birth and to set things right for new family.

Lisa Klein creates a new and engaging angle on Shakespeare’s story of Macbeth in Lady Macbeth’s Daughter. Albia is a fierce heroine for a novel based off of Shakespeare, courageous and witty, though a bit naïve. Though the Macbeths are not supposed to have any children according to the play, Albia’s story fits perfectly with the drama. This work even unravels the mysteries of the witches and prophecies. I also appreciate how Lisa Klein portrays Lady Macbeth as weak and pained as opposed to power-hungry and manipulative, rendering her sympathetic to the reader. The one disappointing aspect of this book was the timing of the ending. For me, Lady Macbeth’s Daughter ended too early in Albia’s story. Still, 8 out of 10.

P.S. On her website, Lisa Klein summarizes her inspiration for this novel as such: “Lady Macbeth says ‘I have given suck, and know how tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me.’ But the Macbeths have no children! Hmmm. What if Macbeth and his wife DID have a child, and her loss was the catalyst for the crimes and other events of Shakespeare's grimmest tragedy?”

1 Comments on Lady Macbeth's Daughter, last added: 1/3/2010
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5. Holiday Break Reading Challenege Finish Line

I continue to fail majorly. I got so caught up in reading for this challenge that I forgot about the writing reviews and blogging portion. I ended up reading a total of 24 books (way more than my original goal of 15), and I doubt I'll write reviews for all of them (correction: I KNOW I won't write reviews for all of them because I have a tendency to be a lazy ass). So, instead I'm going to write a couple of sentences about each, and will pick my favorites when I decide to get around to full reviews. Let me know if you want to hear more about any of these!

1. Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe - I read this for the 1 ARC Tours, so you'll definitely be getting a full review of this one. It took a bit of time before I really got into the book, but once I did I loved it.

2. Where There's a Witch by Madelyn Alt - The fifth installment of Alt's Bewitching Mysteries series. This murder mystery wasn't quite as interesting as the previous ones (it takes way too long to get to the exciting part), but I loved the development of Maggie's personal life and the ending was great, so it all balanced out nicely.

3. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick - I really rushed through this when I read it back in September for the B&N discussion, and just knew I had to reread it since I was missing so much. This book was such a creative blend of fright, friendship, mystery, and romance, though I think readers will either love or hate it. Lucky for me, I loved it and really liked the writing style -- so much so that after the first 50 pages or so, I couldn't put it down.

4-6. Moonlight, Full Moon, and Dark of the Moon by Rachel Hawthorne - Though a bit formulaic, I truly enjoyed this trilogy (though I hear now a fourth installment is due out this spring, so I suppose it isn't a trilogy anymore). I've always enjoyed the romantic lines Hawthorne writes, and I like that she tackled werewolves and made them a whole lot more complex.

7. The Hollow by Jessica Verday - This was just as awesome as I expected it to be. I admit that I'm not always the best at guessing what will happen, but I never would've guessed the truth behind this story. The Haunted can't come soon enough.

8. Larceny and Lace by Annette Blair - Another cute mystery that's the second in Blair's A Vintage Magic Series. I really like how the series has developed so far, so I'll definitely continue to read them.

9. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl - So freakin' good. I really loved how magic and history came together, and all of the puzzle pieces resolve so wonderfully in the end. There absolutely must be a sequel.

10. Shadowland by Alyson Noel - This is the first time Ever started to get on my nerves. I stayed interested because the plot was really engaging, but sometimes she annoyed me so much that finishing seemed like a challenge.

11. Bad Apple by Laura Ruby - Interesting concept, but I didn't really like this. The characters felt flat and I didn't like the format very much (Tola's narration is broken up by quotes from other characters in the novel, but they didn't actually add to the story).

12. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink - This book was incredibly moving and some parts even gave me chills. As the narration was so key to the novel's success in my mind, I'm interested in watching the film adaptation now.

13. Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson - I've loved Maureen Johnson ever since I got an ARC of The Key to the Golden Firebird. This return to Scarlett's life was thoroughly enjoyable, and I love the new characters she brought in. The ending really left me hanging, so this is another book

1 Comments on Holiday Break Reading Challenege Finish Line, last added: 1/3/2010
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6. Flash Burnout

Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan gets into the mind of fifteen-year-old Blake who is struggling to balance his perfect girlfriend Shannon and his photo partner and friend Marissa who happens to be a girl. After taking a photo of a worn-down, drug addict on the street for his photography class (Blake always sticks to gritty photos), he discovers more about Marissa – that woman was her missing mother. As Blake learns more about Marissa, their relationship changes, and Blake begins to realize that though love and romance are confusing, friendship isn’t necessarily any clearer. While he works to perfect his photography, he realizes it takes just as much work to balance the two most important females in his life that couldn’t be more different.

L.K. Madigan blends comedy with more serious matters perfectly in Flash Burnout. Blake’s dilemmas feel real to the reader, and I must say I laughed at some point during nearly every chapter is this novel. L.K. Madigan does a superb job getting into the mind of a teenage boy – a task many young adult authors have tried without as much success – as Blake’s thoughts feel authentic. This book is fast-paced and, despite its length, easy to read in one sitting because it’s so hard to put down. The references to the craft of photography, especially the tips found at the beginning of each chapter and in the title itself, add to the parallels in Blake’s life and enrich the reader’s experience. The only time I was let down was the very ending of this novel which felt rather abrupt. I wish Flash Burnout had gone further in time and not ended so suddenly, so that the reader could feel more closure with the characters. 8 out of 10.

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7. I'M BACK!!!

All I can say is FAIL. I am SO sorry I feel so behind this semester. I thought I'd be able to keep up during school, but that only lasted for about a month and then I was too overwhelmed to update. So sad.

Holiday Break Reading Challenge

Anyway, I have a bunch of reviews to get up and a whole slew of books in my room to read, and I've decided the best way to get myself going again is to participate in a challenge. So, with that in mind, I'm participating in the Holiday Break Reading Challenge. It started yesterday, but so what. Between now and January 3rd, 2010 (a new decade!), I am going to (hopefully) read 15 books. I'm starting now with a book I just got for the 1 ARC Tours - Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe. aannnnnnnnnnnddddd... GO!

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8. Waiting on Wednesday: October 14

Title: The Dark Divine

Author: Bree Despain

US Release date: December 22, 2009

Summary (from GoodReads): I stood back and watched his movements. Daniel had that way about him that could shut me down in an instant. . . . I kicked the gravel a couple of times and worked up my courage again. “Tell me . . . I mean . . . why did you come back? Why now, after all this time?” Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared—the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in blood. But she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night really held. And when Daniel returns three years later, Grace can no longer deny her attraction to him, despite promising Jude she’ll stay away. As Grace gets closer to Daniel, her actions stir the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind Jude and Daniel's dark secret . . . and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it—her soul.

Why I'm interested: Even beyond the gorgeous cover, this book looks so intriguing! An ancient evil, dark secrets, sacrificing one's soul? Wow. The Dark Divine looks like it will have a lot of weight to it and won't be a book you want to put down. This synopsis leaves so much to think about, I cannot wait for this to be released in December.

What's your choice this Wednesday?

2 Comments on Waiting on Wednesday: October 14, last added: 10/18/2009
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9. Secret Society Teen Ambassador Contest

So sorry I've fallen off the face of the earth. I didn't realize quite how demanding this year would be academically, and while it's sad I've had to choose homework and classes over updating this blog :(

Anyway, this is a really awesome contest to promote Tom Dolby's Secret Society. Enter by the 19th and YOU could win an Ambassador Initiation Kit!

The Teen Ambassador Initiation Kit includes:

• “The Initiates were given what looked like tattoos at the nape of their necks.” A set of 15 temporary ankh tattoos for you and 14 Initiates. Give them out wisely!

• “Anastasia took a sip of her martini, leaving a dark red lipstick print on her glass.” Your ticket to gorgeous lips and cheeks, TheBalm’s Stainiac Beauty Queen tinted gel blush (”a hint of tint for
the lips and cheeks”)! A $15 value! (TheBalm is a fabulous makeup brand launched by my friend Marissa Shipman and sold nationwide at Sephora.)

• “A card was included with the package that simply read, ‘With compliments.’” A one-of-a-kind vintage New York postcard signed by Tom — use it as a bookmark!

• “Patch and Nick used to play this game in class, where they would pass notes.” One beautiful, retro-styled Field Notes mini-notebook, perfect for writing down secrets! At the Bradford Trust, we’re crazy about these little notebooks. Normally, three are $10!

• “Lauren started to open it, but Emily stopped her.” Last, but not least: a secret initiation tool — here’s a hint: it’s sealed with an ankh!

1 Comments on Secret Society Teen Ambassador Contest, last added: 10/12/2009
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10. Waiting on Wednesday: October 7 - NEEDS PIC

Title: Hex Hall
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Series: first in a series of Hex Hall books
US Release date: March 2, 2010

Summary (from Amazon.com): Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father-an elusive European warlock-only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters. By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect. As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

Why I'm interested: Hex Hall (as in the school) sounds really interesting. I love how Rachel Hawkins is combining all these supernatural beings - witches, faeries, and more. Then, she adds in a secret society and lots of mystery. Sounds sweet to me.

What's your pick this Wednesday?

1 Comments on Waiting on Wednesday: October 7 - NEEDS PIC, last added: 10/8/2009
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11. Waiting on Wednesday: September 30

Title: Magic Under Glass

Author: Jackie/Jaclyn Dolamore

US Release date: February 1, 2010

Summary (from GoodReads): Nimira is a music-hall performer forced to dance for pennies to an audience of leering drunks. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to do a special act - singing accompaniment to an exquisite piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new life. In Parry's world, however, buried secrets stir. Unsettling below-stairs rumours abound about ghosts, a mad woman roaming the halls, and of Parry's involvement in a gang of ruthless sorcerers who torture fairies for sport. When Nimira discovers the spirit of a dashing young fairy gentleman is trapped inside the automaton's stiff limbs, waiting for someone to break the curse and set him free, the two fall in love. But it is a love set against a dreadful race against time to save the entire fairy realm, which is in mortal peril.

Why I'm interested: Sort of like last week, I love that there's a fairy realm, along with sorcerers and ghosts -- all these supernatural elements coming together is fascinating. And of course, I'm such a sucker for a romance that's fighting against the odds. I'm already sighing.

What are you looking forward to right now?

1 Comments on Waiting on Wednesday: September 30, last added: 10/3/2009
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12. Waiting on Wednesday: September 23

Title: Dragonfly
Author: Julia Golding
US Release date: October 20, 2009

Summary (from Amazon): Princess Taoshira of the Blue Crescent Islands is appalled when she is ordered to marry Prince Ramil of Gerfal in order to unite their lands. And he's not too pleased, either. They hate each other on sight. So, when Tashi and Ramil are kidnapped, they fear there's no escape - from their kidnappers or from each other. Can they put aside their differences long enough to survive ambush, unarmed combat, brainwashing, and imprisonment? And will the people they meet on their adventure help them or betray them to the enemy?

Why I'm interested: I'll admit that the cover is what really caught my attention, because it looks so simple, except it's really not. After reading the summary, I'm really curious, as titles are always deliberate: what does "dragonfly" have to do with anything? Plus, this looks like it will be full of adventure and romance. :)
What are you looking forward to this week?

2 Comments on Waiting on Wednesday: September 23, last added: 9/25/2009
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13. Feed Your Ears XVIII: Shiver

Sorry I haven't been posting as much :( Adjusting to school has been a little stressful, but I should be able to keep up with a few posts a week again now that my schedule is settled and I'm back into a routine.

SO... while I wasn't able to get an interview in with this wonderful author, she said I could steal a playlist she's made and share it with everyone. I don't want to keep you wondering any longer, so let's just say this author is Maggie Stiefvater and the playlist is the one she came up with for Shiver.

1. "The Ocean" - The Bravery (the general thematic song)
2. "Sundrenched World" - Joshua Radin
3. "Run" - Snow Patrol
4. "Cemeteries of London" - Coldplay (hunt scene)
5. "Make This Go On Forever" - Snow Patrol
6. "Matroshka" - Dredg
7. "Underwater" - Vertical Horizon
8. "Star Mile" - Joshua Radin (making quiche)
9. "Set the Fire to the Third Bar" - Snow Patrol
10. "Jeremiah" - Starsailor
11. "Bug Eyes" - Dredg
12. "Everything'll Be Alright" - Joshua Radin (bookstore scene)
13. "Hide and Seek" - Imogen Heap (car scene near end)
14. "A Clock is Ticking" - Snow Patrol (Jack scene near end)
15. "Peter Returns" - James Newton Howard (last scene)
16. "Wake Up, Open the Door, & Escape to the Sea" - Blaqk Audio (ultimate nookie scene)

Such an awesome playlist! And mega thanks to Maggie for letting me use this for Feed Your Ears this week. Her original post of this playlist is over at her blog, where you can also find an audio version of most of these great songs. So go check it out!

1 Comments on Feed Your Ears XVIII: Shiver, last added: 9/21/2009
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14. Waiting on Wednesday: September 16

Title: The Indigo Notebook
Author: Laura Resau
Series: 1st in The Notebook series
US Release date: October 13, 2009

Summary (from GoodReads): Zeeta's life with her free-spirited mother, Layla, is anything but normal. Every year Layla picks another country she wants to live in. This summer they’re in Ecuador, and Zeeta is determined to convince her mother to settle down. Zeeta makes friends with vendors at the town market and begs them to think of upstanding, “normal” men to set up with Layla. There, Zeeta meets Wendell. She learns that he was born nearby, but adopted by an American family. His one wish is to find his birth parents, and Zeeta agrees to help him. But when Wendell’s biological father turns out to be involved in something very dangerous, Zeeta wonders whether she’ll ever get the chance to tell her mom how she really feels—or to enjoy her deepening feelings for Wendell.

Why I'm interested: First, I absolutely loved Laura Resau's writing in Red Glass. While the plot is entirely different, this book looks like it will have many of the same themes, which would be great. I also love to travel, so I really like Zeeta's background.

1 Comments on Waiting on Wednesday: September 16, last added: 9/19/2009
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15. In My Mailbox: Week 14

:( No books this week... hopefully better luck next week!

What about you all?

1 Comments on In My Mailbox: Week 14, last added: 9/14/2009
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16. Feed Your Ears XVII: Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist

To read about the origins of Feed Your Ears, check out my first post.

So this week I'm going with something a little different again. Obviously, Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan is FULL of music. On the book's webiste, Rachel Cohn has put together three great playlists.

The first playlist is a compilation of many of the songs and artists that appear in Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist. This playlist includes Stevie Wonder's "Living For The City," Rancid's "Ruby Soho," Belle & Sebastian's "Wrapped Up In Books" and more.

There's another playlist Rachel Cohn calls the (T)rainy/Dreamy Playlist. This one was inspired by Norah's desire to make a mix for Nick with "rain" and "train" in the title, with songs like The Weather Girls' "It's Raining Men," and Anita O'Day's "Take the 'A' Train."

The last playlist on the book's site is one Rachel Cohn put together of songs she could imagine Norah listening to. This playlist has got some great hits such as Frank Sinatra's "Come Fly With Me" and Elvis Costello's "You Belong to Me."

2 Comments on Feed Your Ears XVII: Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, last added: 9/14/2009
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17. Catching Fire contest winner

Sorry it took me a few days to get all the entries together and thanks for waiting while I did so, as now it is time to announce the winner of my Catching Fire contest. Without further ado, the winner of an ARC of Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins is...

Congrats Shal! I'll be getting in touch soon to get your mailing address so I can send the book out. Thanks to everyone who entered! I was thrilled to have a ton of entries, and will try to get another contest going before the month ends.

4 Comments on Catching Fire contest winner, last added: 9/11/2009
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18. Waiting on Wednesday: September 9

Title: Beautiful Creatures
Authors: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
US Release date: December 1, 2009

Summary (from Amazon.com): Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever. Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them. In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Why I'm interested: Well, I've spent a fair amount of time reading Kami Garcia's and Maragert Stohl's blogs, and I can say that if Beautiful Creatures is even half as interesting as they appear to be, it'll be pretty darn interesting. And as I've mentioned with a few other of my Waiting on Wednesday picks, I adore old houses and history and a bit of mystery, so this looks great. Plus I cannot wait to know what the powerful secret is.
What's your selection this week?

2 Comments on Waiting on Wednesday: September 9, last added: 9/9/2009
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19. Interview with Lauren Baratz-Logsted

To start off this month full of author interviews, I had the pleasure of introducing Lauren Baratz-Logsted, author (from Connecticut!) of many books for children, teens, and young adults. Her most recent young adult novel is Crazy Beautiful, a modern adaptation of Beauty & the Beast (I posted my review yesterday). For more about Lauren Baratz-Logsted and her writing, check out her website.


Me: As an accomplished author, can you tell us a little bit about your road to publishing?
LBL: A little bit? I'd need to write a whole book to tell that story! Short version? I left my day job in 1994 to take a chance on myself as a writer. It took me nearly eight years and seven books written before I sold the sixth, an adult novel called THE THIN PINK LINE. I've since sold a total of 20 books to various publishers in various genres and for various age groups.

Me: How did you decide to retell the story of Beauty and the Beast?
LBL: I'd just seen the stage version on Broadway and I got to thinking about how out of all the Disney-fied fairy tales, it makes for the most successful stage and screen adaptations. I started wondering why that would be and decided it's the only one where the male is more than just window dressing for the female. And then I got to thinking how much fun it would be to do a contemporary version where, like the Beast, the male's otherness is a result of his own tragic mistakes and then find a way for him to redeem himself.

Me: Have you considered writing a modern adaptation of any other fairy tales?
LBL: Finally! A question I can give a short answer to! Yes.

Me: Yay! I can’t wait. So, names are important to any story. How did you decide on Lucius for the Beast and Aurora for Beauty?
LBL: Lucius Wolfe - both elements of his name are variations on wolf. Aurora Belle - Aurora is the goddess of the dawn in Roman mythology and Belle of course is beautiful.

Me: The cover of Crazy Beautiful certainly catches the eye. What role did you play in its design?
LBL: Zero! I had absolutely no say in the cover although I did mention I'd like to see something resembling a hook on it. I absolutely love the cover that the artistic design team at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt came up with.

Me: What is the most exciting part of the writing process for you?
LBL: I love it all, but I guess if I had to pick the most exciting it'd be the moment an idea comes and I realize the idea is so big and fresh, at least to me, it can fill a whole book. Wait. Can I pick two most exciting parts? If so, the other would be when I complete the book and realize I've gone the distance in telling the story I wanted to tell in the way I wanted to tell it.

Me: As you write books for all ages, how is writing for teenagers/young adults different than writing for children or adults?
LBL: Teens these days have more demands on their time and distractions than any teens in recent memory. As a result, an author needs to really be on her best game in terms of holding the reader's interest. You need to write tighter. The other big difference I find is the sense of responsibility. I give my readers credit for being intelligent but I still am very careful not to send the wrong messages through my work. I'd hate it if anyone ever jumped off a bridge just because they thought I told them to.

Me: Are you working on anything right now that you can tell us about?
LBL: I'm always working on something! I have two more YA novels scheduled for 2010. THE EDUCATION OF BET, due out in spring 2010, is about a 16-year-old girl in Victorian England who impersonates a boy in order to get a proper education. THE TWIN'S DAUGHTER, also set in Victorian England and due out in fall 2010, is about a teen whose life is changed forever when she discovers her wealthy mother has an identical twin who grew up in the poorhouse. Oh, and 2010 will also see the publication of Books 5 and 6 in THE SISTERS 8, the series for young readers that I've created with my YA novelist husband Greg Logsted - http://www.greglogsted.com/ - and our nine-year-old daughter Jackie. Phew!

Me: Now for a couple of random questions. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, can you tell us a few songs that show up on your playlist most frequently?
LBL: I almost never listen to music when I'm writing although I do listen to "General Hospital" on television every afternoon from three to four. The one exception to the no-music-while-writing rule would be the adult novel VERTIGO which I wrote while repeatedly listening to the sountrack from The Piano.

Me: Now one that seems to be on everyone’s mind: how DO you pronounce your last name?
LBL: HA! Baratz is like Barrett would sound if you made it plural and Logsted is exactly as it looks although for some reason people are always trying to insert the letter 'a' into it. Thanks for having me!

Me: Thanks for joining us!


Lauren Baratz-Logsted's Crazy Beautiful will be released September 7th. Don't miss out!

1 Comments on Interview with Lauren Baratz-Logsted, last added: 9/3/2009
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20. Feed Your Ears XVI: Ash

To read about the origins of Feed Your Ears, check out my first post.

This week's selection is Malinda Lo's debut, Ash. About a month ago, Malinda Lo posted a playlist of some of the songs she listened to while writing Ash. Today's Feed Your Ears post is going to be a sample from this really great playlist.

1. Moved Through the Fair” by Loreena McKennitt

2. “Far Away” by Martha Wainwright

3. “Lust” by Tori Amos

4. “The Unforgettable Fire” by U2

5. “Universe & U” by KT Tunstall

And to think... there are 14 songs on Malinda Lo's playlist. That means you should head to her blog to check out the Ash playlist in its entirety.

P.S. Check back tomorrow for my interview with Malinda Lo!

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21. Interview with Malinda Lo

So, this is an exciting week, because I get to share with you not one, but TWO interviews. Now I have the honor of introducing one of the ’09 debs, Malinda Lo. Malinda Lo’s novel, Ash, in the most simple of terms is a lesbian retelling of Cinderella. I read and reviewed this one awhile ago, so to hear more about Ash see my review.


KB: First, can you tell us a little about your road to publishing?
ML: It's been about seven and a half years between first inspiration and my book hitting the shelves, so it's definitely been a long road! To briefly summarize, I wrote three or four drafts of Ash before I even submitted it to agents in 2007. My agent offered to represent me in December 2007; I did another revision for her by January 2008; and we got our first offers in February 2008. Since then, things have been moving at lightning speed, but I still did three revisions along the way. A lot of revising goes into publishing!

KB: Why did you decide to write fiction for young adults?
ML: I actually didn't make a conscious decision to write YA fiction. I simply wrote Ash the way I wanted to write it, and when I was finally ready to submit it to agents, I saw that it fit best within the YA genre. It's actually not so surprising because I was so inspired by other YA fairy tale retellings I read when I was a teen.

KB: The cover of Ash is gorgeous! What role did you play in its cover design?
ML: Pretty much none! I just wrote the book, and the talented Alison Impey took what she read and translated it perfectly into an image. I am so happy with the cover!

KB: Why did you choose the tale of Cinderella?
ML: Cinderella was always my favorite fairy tale when I was a kid. I've also long been a fan of Robin McKinley's fairy tale retellings, and I always wished she would write a retelling of Cinderella. Since she didn't (or hasn't so far), I decided to write the story I've always wanted to read.

KB: How did you decide to make Cinderella a lesbian? Did this make the Cinderella story more difficult to rework?
ML: Well, in the first draft, Ash (the Cinderella character) fell in love with the prince. But then I sent that draft to a friend to read, and she told me she felt that the prince was kinda boring, but this other woman (the huntress) was much more intriguing. I looked closely at the draft and realized that Ash was falling in love with this woman, not the prince. That's when I decided to rewrite it as a "lesbian Cinderella." It didn't make retelling the story any more difficult; in fact, I think it made it easier, because this was the story that was trying to get out of my subconscious.

KB: What was the most challenging part about writing Ash? What about the most rewarding?
ML: Honestly, the most challenging part about the actual writing of Ash was writing the romantic scenes. Writing romance doesn't come easily to me, and I have to spend a lot of time thinking about words and how to spin them into a romantic feeling without becoming overly sweet. Partly as a result of this, I think some of the most rewarding parts are when I finish those scenes and reread them. When they evoke the effect in me that I was aiming for -- that's when it's wonderful.

KB: Can you tell us a bit about what you are working on now?
ML: I am working on a companion novel to Ash. It's set in the same world, but several hundred years earlier, so there are no crossover characters. Or are there? (evil laugh)

KB: What do you do when writer’s block hits?
ML: Well, I usually encounter writer's block when I haven't given enough time to thinking about what I want to happen. Not what I want to write, specifically, but which direction the story should go in. Unfortunately, if I'm on a deadline, I just have to power through it -- I kind of force myself through the trouble spots, writing basically anything, and then go back and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite. This is what I learned from being a reporter. Once there's something on the page, I can go back and work things out and improve it.
If I have a little more time, or if my deadline is a little farther ahead and I encounter writer's block, I'll take a break from it. I'll actually leave my desk and go for a walk in the woods or something. Being away from the computer is very helpful, actually -- sometimes I'll solve the block just by going to sit on the couch and writing longhand for a while. It's mostly about changing the physical situation I'm in, which seems to break through the mental block.

KB: If you had to pick one (or maybe two) song(s) to associate with Ash, what would you pick?
ML: KT Tunstall's "Universe & U" -- I listened to this song repeatedly when writing one scene in Ash. And "Bonfire" by Lamb -- this song makes me think of the character of Sidhean. Kind of creepy and weird. :) And I've created an Ash playlist; you can see it here.
KB: Thank you so much for joining us! I love that playlist for Ash and highlighted it yesterday in my Feed Your Ears post :)


Malinda Lo’s debut release, Ash, was released this past Tuesday, September 1st, so get it NOW in stores. Also, she keeps a really awesome author blog, which you can find here.

4 Comments on Interview with Malinda Lo, last added: 9/6/2009
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22. In My Mailbox: Week 13

In My Mailbox was created by Kristi from The Story Siren. Here's what I found in my mailbox, at the bookstore, and at the library these last two weeks. Summaries are taken from Amazon, B&N, and GoodReads.

Moonlight by Rachel Hawthorne (for review) - Kayla is the nature lover, the all-American beauty who can't understand why she's so drawn to distant, brooding Lucas. Adopted as a young child, she has no way of knowing that she's inherited a terrifying—and thrilling—gene that will change her life forever. Lucas is dangerous, gorgeous . . . and a werewolf. As leader of the Dark Guardians, shape-shifters who gather deep within the state park, he has sworn to protect his pack. But when Lucas finds his true soul mate, his love could put them all in harm's way. As Lucas and Kayla struggle with their feelings for each other, a greater danger lurks: Humans have discovered the Dark Guardians and are planning their destruction. Kayla must choose between the life she knows and the love she feels certain is her destiny.

The Hollow by Jessica Verday - When Abbey's best friend, Kristen, vanishes at the bridge near Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, everyone else is all too quick to accept that Kristen is dead?and rumors fly that her death was no accident. Abbey goes through the motions of mourning her best friend, but privately, she refuses to believe that Kristen is really gone. Then she meets Caspian, the gorgeous and mysterious boy who shows up out of nowhere at Kristen's funeral, and keeps reappearing in Abbey's life. Caspian clearly has secrets of his own, but he's the only person who makes Abbey feel normal again...but also special. Just when Abbey starts to feel that she might survive all this, she learns a secret that makes her question everything she thought she knew about her best friend. How could Kristen have kept silent about so much? And could this secret have led to her death? As Abbey struggles to understand Kristen's betrayal, she uncovers a frightening truth that nearly unravels her—one that will challenge her emerging love for Caspian, as well as her own sanity.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry - An aviator whose plane is forced down in the Sahara Desert encounters a little prince from a small planet who relates his adventures in seeking the secret of what is important in life.

And such is my mailbox for the week... what about your's?

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23. Once a Witch

Once a Witch tells the story of Tamsin Green, a member of very Talented witch family. At the time of her birth, Tamsin is predicted to be the most Talented of them all. Now that Tamsin is a teenager, it seems unusual that her abilities never developed, leaving her as the black sheep of the family. When a mysterious stranger shows up at her grandmother’s store asking for help retrieving a valuable heirloom, Tamsin agrees, hoping to prove her self-worth despite a lack of Talent. The same day, Aunt Lydia (a family friend, not really her aunt) and her son, Gabriel, return from California. Gabriel winds up joining Tasmin on her search, and along the way Tasmin gets reacquainted with the childhood friend she didn’t write to for years, realizing that he’s done a lot of growing up during their time apart. Together, Tasmin and Gabriel travel through time uncovering secrets of the Green family’s history and growing closer.

Carolyn MacCullough creates an exciting urban fantasy in Once a Witch. A complex story full of intrigue, romance, power, and conflict, this novel will utterly absorb the reader. I was impressed by the way Carolyn MacCullough cleverly plays with time, weaving an intricate web of clues and adventures for Tamsin and Gabriel. Not a single character in this story is there for padding – even the minor ones are important. Rather than being a classic novel of good-versus-evil, the Green’s shady history leads Tamsin, and with her the reader, to question otherwise accepted truths and individuals’ motivations. Above all, this is a story about discovering one’s identity and protected those you care for. Once a Witch is a thrilling race through time with an enchanting love story that leaves the reader desperate for a sequel. 8 out of 10.

P.S. Once a Witch has a really awesome website including quizzes, a family tree, and information about witches.

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24. Interview with Carolyn MacCullough

Today I have the pleasure of introducing Carolyn MacCullough, author of Falling Through Darkness, Stealing Henry, Drawing the Ocean, and most recently, Once a Witch (read my review). Born in Connecticut, she has now moved on to a more exciting life reading, writing, and teaching in New York (not I’m jealous, of course).


KB: When did you know you wanted to be an author?
CM: Probably in 3rd grade. I won a short story contest for my story about a princess and a dragon and thought hey, this writing thing is fun. It took me awhile though (like 18 years) to stop writing about princesses and dragons!

KB: Why did you decide to write for young adults?
CM: I never consciously set out to write for young adults. I just wrote my first book, Falling Through Darkness, from the perspective of a 17 year old because that was the character in my head. That said, however, I've discovered that teens/young adults happen to be one of the most rewarding and inspirational audiences to write for.
KB: What inspired you to write Once a Witch?
CM: Oh, who doesn't dream of having a special talent or power that sets you apart from the rest of the world? Then I started thinking about a character who was an outcast in her own family since they were all extremely Talented while she was not. Or so she thinks at the beginning of the book...
KB: What sort of research went into your writing?
CM: Lots of time spent on Google! Actually, the most fun sort of research was just to walk around Washington Square Park in New York (where some of the book is set) studying the beautiful architectural details of all those 19th century townhouses. I spent a lot of time imagining what the insides of those places looked like and all the parties that must have gone on.
KB: Do you identify with any of your characters?
CM: Definitely with Tamsin. I think a lot of people feel like a bit of an outsider at certain points in their lives. Tamsin also has a habit of comparing herself (unfavorably) to her beautiful and perfect older sister, Rowena,--I have two older sisters so I definitely did some of that while growing up.

KB: What Talent do you wish you possessed?
CM: Oh, good question! I would like to be able to rewind time--just for a few seconds or a few hours or even a day in case I need to redo something. Then again, interfering with time has disastrous results in the book for Tamsin, so maybe that's too dangerous of a Talent to pick.

KB: Can we expect another book about Tamsin? (I’m crossing my fingers here!)
CM: Yes! I'm working on the sequel right now. It's tentatively titled, Always a Witch and features more time travel, spywork, Talents, and of course, some romance!
KB: *does happy dance*

KB: If you had to pick one song (or maybe two) to associate with Once a Witch, what song would it be?
CM: I love Marco Polo by Loreena McKennitt and also Teardrop by Massive Attack. I listened to those on repeat a lot!

KB: And to finish this up, what was your favorite book as a teen?
CM: Such a hard question! If I had to pick one--The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. I still reread it every few years.


Thanks so much for joining us!

Carolyn MacCullough’s latest novel, Once a Witch, goes on sale September 14th. Catch my review here, and make sure to visit the book’s awesome website (with lots of bonus material such as quizzes and the truth about witches) over here.

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25. Teaser Tuesday: Week 12

Teaser Tuesdays is sponsored by MizB of Should Be Reading. Teaser Tuesdays go like this:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My teaser this week:
"She leafed through a few more pages of my file. I had no idea what observation Dr. Hendrickson had immortalized there, and I didn't want to wait around long enough to find out."

--page 147-8, Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

What's your teaser this Tuesday?

1 Comments on Teaser Tuesday: Week 12, last added: 9/9/2009
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